Original First Edition of Games People Play 1964

Original First Edition of Games People Play from Eric Berne’s private library.

This game is the source of a large percentage of petty dissension in everyday life; it is played from the depressive Child position “I am no good,” which is protectively transformed into the Parental position “They are no good.”  The player’s transactional problem is, then, to prove the latter thesis.  Hence “Blemish” players do not feel comfortable with a new person until they have found his blemish.  In its hardest form it may become a totalitarian political game played by “authoritarian” personalities, and then it may have serious historical repercussions.  Hence its close relationship with “Nowadays” is evident.   In suburban society positive reassurance is obtained from playing “How’m  I doing?” while “Blemish provides negative reassurance.  A partial analysis will make some of the elements of this game clearer.

The premise may range from the most trivial and extraneous (“Last year’s hat”), to the most cynical (Hasn’t got $7,000 in the bank”), sinister (“Not 100% Aryan), esoteric (“ Hasn’t read Rilke”), intimate (“Can’t hold his erection”) or sophisticated (“What’s he trying to prove?”).   Psychodynamically it is usually based on sexual insecurity, and its aim is reassurance.  Transactionally there is prying, morbid curiosity or watchfulness, sometimes with Parental or Adult concern charitably masking the Child’s relish.  It has internal psychological advantage of warding off depression, and the external psychological advantage of avoiding the intimacy which might expose White’s own blemishes.  White feels justified in turning away an unfashionable woman, a man without financial backing, a non-Aryan, and illiterate, an impotent man or an insecure personality.  At the same time the prying offers some internal social action with biological gain.  The external social advantage is of the “Ain’t It Awful family—Neighborly Type.

The description of this game on this page is incomplete.  For a complete description of this game, refer to Games People Play.